10 Things You Might Not Know About Depression

Depression

I recently spent nearly 3 hours researching the areas of mental fitness, self improvement, and self help that people are the most interested in – the areas they’re seeking the most help with and information about.  I have several self help and mental fitness blogs and websites and I don’t want to fill them with subjects I want to write about, I want to fill them with subjects people genuinely want (and need) to read.  That’s why I have contact forms on TMFC, Out of Bounds, and Self Help Daily – I want to know what’s on people’s minds.

Consistently, the following subjects are popular:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • relationships
  • overcoming shyness
  • losing weight
  • public speaking
  • gaining self confidence

During the 3 hours of research, I found that depression and anxiety are amongst the most searched for topics in the world self improvement.  Last month, over 11,100,000 searches were performed on Google for “depression.”  Over 6,000,000 searches were performed for anxiety and countless others were performed for “depression help,” “depression and anxiety,” “overcoming depression,” and so on.

I had an idea what the findings would be, based upon the e-mail I receive and the replies on the contact forms. But, I have to say, I didn’t realize the numbers would be this high.  The thought of this many people feeling so down and so unhappy – to the point that they actively are searching for advice (like a cry out for help) – makes me profoundly sad.  It also makes me feel pretty helpless.  What can you do to reach out to so many people and let them know that life doesn’t have to be like this?  How can you, in essence, put a hand on their back and encourage them to hang on and dig deeper?

I guess the answer is the same answer that holds true for most things in life – you start somewhere and take it one step at a time. 

One post at a time.

Suffice to say, there will be plenty of upcoming posts involving depression, anxiety, sadness, happiness, overcoming the blues, the difference between the blues and depression, treatment options for clinical depression, books about depression, and so on.  I’ll still post a regular stream of articles and posts about mental fitness, brain games, relaxation, and our other favorite topics as well – they’ll just have a lot of company…  articles with one thing on their mind:  Reaching as many people as possible and giving them a greater quality of life and a larger number of smiles!

We’ll kick things off with a list of 10 Things You Might Not Know About Depression.

  • All of us experience the blues, feelings of anxiety, discouragement, and profound sadness throughout our lives. Many times people mis-label how they feel as depression.  This is a grave error and only makes things worse!  If you feel sad due to a recent traumatic experience (a death in the family, problems in a relationship or at work, a huge disappointment, financial problems, an empty nest…..), keep in mind that this is perfectly normal.  Feelings are a natural thing, even when they aren’t positive.  If something has affected your mood and your feelings, you simply have to ride it out and find ways to cope with your unhappiness or feelings of anxiety.  If, after time, you simply can’t find your way out of the pit or if (even after seeing a great movie or spending time with people who normally light up your world) you can’t seem to remember how to feel happy or “normal,” then seek help.  As with any health concern, never diagnose yourself Chief!
  • Of the estimated 17.5 million Americans who are affected by some form of depression, 9.2 million have major depression – also known as clinical depression. That’s a pretty intense number and I suppose the only positive we can take away from it is this:  At least people who suffer from depression know they aren’t alone – not even close.
  • Two-thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek necessary treatment. It’s obvious what this means, right?  2/3 of people with depression never get better…. only 1 in 3 allows themselves to have a life filled with the love, laughter, and happiness that they deserve.  Ony 1!
  • Of the people with clinical (major) depression who are proactive enough to seek help, 80%  significantly improve their lives. Hopefully the other 20 percent realize they aren’t getting the care they deserve and they keep looking until they do.
  • Women experience depression about twice as often as men.
  • Always remember that depression is a serious illness, it isn’t a sign of weakness or a personality flaw, any more than being diabetic means you lack character or strength!
  • Seasonal depression (SAD) is depression that occurs only at a certain time of the year. SAD, which is often called “the winter blues” usually occurs during winter, when the number of daylight hours is lower. Although it is predictable and understandable, it can be very severe. It’s compounded by the feelings of being “let down” emotionally after Christmas. So much time and effort goes into the holiday season that people feel a little bit of an emotional roller coaster after the festivities are over. Many people also greatly miss loved ones (who have either died or moved away) during this time. Given all of these factors, it’s a wonder SAD isn’t more prevalent than it is.
  • Bipolar disorder is a very interesting branch of depression. Bipolar Disorder is sometimes viewed as its own mental entity, as many people fail to realize that it is (at heart) depression with tricks up its sleeve.  Bipolar Disorder involves episodes of depression, usually quite severe, which alternate with episodes of extreme elation called mania.  Bipolar Disorder was once known as manic depression.  The depression that is associated with bipolar disorder, which is a sever mood disorder, is often referred to as bipolar depression.  People who suffer with Bipolar Disorder are privy to the type of emotional turmoil that most of us, thankfully, can’t even begin to imagine.   People with Bipolar disorder need to find the best doctor they possibly can and then they need to be as loyal to him/her as they are to their own spouse.  Going it alone with any type of depression is completely and utterly ridiculous (and dangerous) – but never more so than with Bipolar disorder.
  • The biggest barriers to overcoming depression? Realizing you are depressed, seeking help, and doing what the doctor says.
  • Teen depression can be very hard to diagnose. After all, so many things go on with a teenager that they’re often written off as adolescent hormones. If the feelings or symptoms seem to be more intense than what other kids their age are going through, it might be time to find out why.

The Symptoms of Depression

  • a persistent sadness
  • feelings of being anxious or on edge
  • feeling empty or “not yourself”
  • sleeping too little
  • sleeping too much
  • reduced appetite and weight loss
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • restlessness
  • feelings of irritability
  • a tendency to snap at people for no reason
  • a tendency to tear up often
  • persistent physical symptoms and ailments that don’t respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders)
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inability to make even simple decisions
  • fatigue and loss of energy
  • feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • wanting to be alone and finding ways to be alone
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Again, there are many times during our life when we feel most of the feelings named above – there are even very low times in our lives when we may feel a combination. For example, if you’re going through a personal crisis (death of a loved one, divorce, strained family relationships….), you will cry more often, you will want to spend more times alone (trying to wrap your mind around everything), you will lose interest in things that once interested and even delighted you, and you may feel guilty or hopeless. Your sleep and eating patterns will also be affected. The difference is, most of us come out of this valley – often stronger than before! – but people who suffer with depression simply can’t find the way out of the valley by themselves.

What Causes Depression?

  • Biological Factors. People who suffer with depression may simply have an excess of or a deficiency in certain brain chemicals.
  • Cognitive Factors. People who tend to think negatively and possess very low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.
  • Gender. Women experience clinical depression nearly twice as often as men. Experts point to hormone problems as a factor.
  • Co-occurrence With Other Diseases. Depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory disease, and hormonal disorders.  Understandable, right? Any type of disease brings extra stress, worry, fear, and burdens into a person’s life.
  • Medications. Some medications have depression as a side-effect.  Needless to say, if you ever take any medication that throws you into an extended period of sadness, speak to your doctor about alternative medication.
  • Genetic Factors. A family history of clinical depression increases the risk for developing the illness.
  • Situational or Life Factors. Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to clinical depression.

If you believe that you (or someone you love) may have depression or seem to be headed in that direction, please don’t expect it to get better on its own and never, ever think you have to just live with it.  Your tomorrows can be brighter than today but you have to be proactive and determined.

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Here’s something I found pretty interesting: There’s a direct correlation between fish consumption and lowered levels of depression. A glance around the world really drives the fact home:  The United States has 24 times the incidence of depression as Japan, for example, where fish intake is much higher.  24 times!

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7 comments… add one
  • I’m going through a painful period in my life right now, Joi. It’s complicated, but thankfully I haven’t sunk into a depression pit yet. There are people who are rallying behind me and who love me, and that has helped me tremendously. Hopefully I will emerge a better person for it.

    Thank you so much, Joi.

  • Very well written! I’ve done quite a bit of research on depression and anxiety myself and rarely have i seen a post so extensive about depression. Do you have a post or article on overcoming or treating depression?
    I look forward to reading more posts!

    regards

    Jonathan

  • Great Information

    thanks for sharing with us

  • Neil, You’re more than welcome! – Joi

  • tara

    ive suddenly sunk into the horriblist form of depression in the last 7 weeks n have been struggling ever since n to make matters bloody worse my medication aint kickin in either,all im gettin from my dr is b patient until my antidepressants kick in the thing is now im like this ive 4got wat its to b like normal again n ive just had enough of all this suffering now and i dunno wat i can doplz help xx

  • Tara, If your doctor isn’t providing you with the correct medication that you need – you seriously should see another physician. Some forms of depression require medicines, but if the dose isn’t right (or the medicine, itself, is wrong) – you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Please see another doctor soon and get the treatment you need and deserve.

    Also, find reasons to smile. That may sound ridiculously simple but it honestly helps. Sometimes you just have to LOOK for reasons to smile – it’s like letting a little sunlight into a dark room. If your face smiles – even for a few minutes – the rest of your body will pick up on the FEEL GOOD vibrations. Watch a funny sitcom or cartoon, read the comics, play with a cat or dog, watch birds in the yard scamper around, or just relive some funny things you’ve seen or heard.

    You could spend time on a hilarious website like http://icanhascheezburger.com/ or search for Dane Cook videos on YouTube (or any comedian who makes you laugh). YouTube’s also a great place to find great music, sitcom scenes, bloopers, etc – all things that can also put a smile on your face.

    Depression and the darkness that accompanies it have to be fought with all you have. Even when you don’t feel like you have the strength, you have to muster it up and prove to yourself that you’re much stronger than the darkness. I know you are!

    Start out by finding reasons to smile – then either see your doctor and tell him the problems you’re having or find a new doctor. Keep fighting – you’ll win in the end and, who knows, you might be able to help someone else down the line through their own darkness.

    Best wishes – let me know how you’re doing! – Joi

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